Carl Schwamberger wrote: ↑
03 Dec 2021 21:26
Its looking like it. The reinvention of the wheel factor may certainly be occurring too over the last 75 years.
Nevetheless Im seeing a lot less here than I expected from a staff the size of First Army, and the time allowed. They were not distracted by IG or PhasMo inspections, current events, maintaining 25 year old vehicles, ect... all they had was one task here. We were concurrently planning two or three major evolutions. I have a feeling of looking behind the curtain and finding, well...
The proliferation of 'social history' has left us with a reasonable picture of the clock face, but not much about the mechanism behind it.
You make a good point. The planning process behind the US side of the fireplan has not been well documented. Note the absence of a chapter on fire planning from Peter Caddick Adams' tome Sand and Steel.
WEv have some of this from the British point of view. I was fortunate to be directed to the Parham Papers by the old Firepower archivist. Recognising that this was a historic event, Parham kept a daily diary between January and 4th June 1944 - but that was Jack Parham. At some point I will try to publish this as it does show the variety of issues they were tackling in addiition to the fireplan. A lot of time was spent persuing ideas that led nowhere.
This was the artillery branch of Second Army, but I suspect similar issues would have absorbed the attention of branches in First Army.
#1 G1 (Personnel). Quite a bit of the high level staffing still needed to be sorted out. One individual offered as CRA 1st Airborne turned the appointment down. Someone's nomination as CCRA was unacceptable.
#2 The search for better observation on D Day. Parham - godfather of the Air OP, was unhappy with absence of air OPs on D Day. His terrain analysis of Normandy was that there were few natural observation positions in the lodgement area and air OPs would be key. He fought a lengthy paper battle with the Royal Navy to obtaoin an aircraft carrier from which to launch Air OPs on D Day. The RN eventually relented and offered Argus, but not until the end of May when it was too late. He fought another with the RAF to try to obtain the prototype Sikorsky helicopter to use on D Day from a landing craft - and failed. There were ideas about dropping a forelorn hope of OPs behind enemy lines - one stopped by Parham's HQ. Maybe s no one in Frist Army was obsessed to the same extent with air OPs, but there would have been somethign that someone was obsessed with.
#3 Adjudicating shipping loading. All subordinate units had overbid for the limited shipping available. There were several attempts to balance the demands of troops via suboordinate HQ with the changing allowance of shipping. This was not helped by some units or formations misunderstanding the loading rules and either ignoring the limitations of physical space and or weight. So varios bids had to be turned back.
#4 Air defence planning. A lot of time was spent on different aspects of joint combined air defence planning.
Much of this was new. Earlier landinsg had not drawn on the same level of air activity. How would the air defence organisation provide moment to moment control over AA guns ashore and afloat? How wpuld it step forwards? What part did smoke and balloons play and how were they integrated with the air plan? You could not simply release smoke to screen Mulberry Harbour while aircraft were landing on airstrios ashore. Parham produced a list of hypothetical scenarios as a basis for study. With the benefit of hindsoight we can ignore the air threat, nut they could not. Op Husky was a bad precedent and the Germans had shown off Salerno and Anzio that they were capable of springing surprises.
#5 Training was an issue for the units late to join the assault plan. British units arriving from the Mediteranean needed to go through assult training. That included HQ 30 Corps 50th Infantry and 7th Armoured Diviisons and 5 AGRA.
#6 Last minute additions. The disposable assult gun brigade - the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group needed to be raised, trained and its role agreed. The 987th FAB was dragged forwards from its very lowly position in the US deployment , rushed across the Atlantic and assigned to land with and support 30th Corps on D Day. THere was a fair amout of staff work.
#7 Implications of technical problems. Could US 155mm Long Tom guns be towed at the angle needed to land from a landing craft or will towing hooks need to be repositioned? Can the electrical problems with 20mm triple polsten AAA guns be resolved.
#8 Supply matters. Ammunition allocation, including the new APDS Anti tank rounds. Delayed deliveries of the 17 pounder M10 SP. I suspect the US may have had even bigger supply worries as Op Bolero was still acceleratign durign the first half of 1944.
Just a flavour of what they did all day long besides fireplanning.